PROS:

  • Compact size makes cleaning tight spaces a breeze
  • Replaceable mop wipes are convenient and hygienic
  • Packs plenty of smart features despite the size

CONS:

  • Light and limited mopping function
  • Can’t vacuum and mop at the same time
  • Disposable wet wipes can be wasteful and expensive over time

RATINGS:

AESTHETICS
ERGONOMICS
PERFORMANCE
SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY
VALUE FOR MONEY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The SwitchBot K10+ mini robot vacuum cleaner challenges the status quo to deliver the same smarts and power in a compact and agile package.

They predated the craze that is now known as smart homes, but robot vacuums have only really caught on in the past few years as people started to appreciate the time and effort these intelligent machines save them. As time goes on, the humble giant pucks that were robot vacuums have evolved into more advanced species with more features and more intelligence to make life more convenient for humans and sometimes even pets. That said, all these smart robot vacuums have embraced the motto of “bigger is better,” which is definitely not the case when these rolling circles start bumping into corners or get stuck in between furniture. The SwitchBot K10+ tries to attack that problem from a different angle by offering a robot vacuum that’s smaller yet still just as smart, so we take it for a roll to see if size does matter or not.

Designer: SwitchBot

Aesthetics

When seen in isolation, it’s hard to point out what makes the SwitchBot K10+ robot vacuum cleaner special. Yes, it has a clean and minimalist design, but so do most machines in this market. Available only in white, the K10+ makes no effort to hide the sensors in front and on top, though it does give the otherwise plain appearance some visual flair.

When you put it in the context of other things in your house, however, that’s when you really appreciate the design of the SwitchBot K10+. It’s significantly smaller than other robot vacuum cleaners in all aspects, from the robot itself to its auto-emptying base station. The size difference is even more apparent when you compare it with a regular robot vac and see how much smaller it is. With small black markings on its face and on the top of its head, it almost looks like a cute toy.

That diminutive size isn’t just for show, of course. We’ll get to the performance aspects later, but even just in terms of appearance, the K10+ has an edge over the competition. Its compact size makes it easier to place the vacuum and its base station almost anywhere, whether it’s in plain sight, hidden in corners, or in between shelves. Whether you want to show it off or have it disappear in the background, the SwitchBot K10+ gives you the choice and doesn’t force you like some behemoth robot vacuum cleaners and their overgrown stations.

Ergonomics

Some say big is better, but being small has plenty of benefits as well. It’s a size that’s often associated with agility and manageability, and the SwitchBot K10+ definitely checks those boxes off. At only 2.3kg, you can easily pick up the robot, and you’ll actually do that a lot if you want to mop the floor with it. That’s because the K10+ doesn’t have an independent mopping component and you’ll have to turn it over every time to put on or remove the mop wet wipes we’ll get to in a bit.

You might also want to bring it up or down stairs, in case you want to vacuum other floors. While the SwitchBot app can indeed store maps, the robot can’t climb stairs on its own. Because of its small size and lightweight design, you won’t break a sweat carrying the machine where it can do its job. Of course, you won’t be carrying the charging station with it, so you’ll have to be more attentive to the robot’s battery levels.

Operating and managing the robot vacuum is also easy as pie. Of course, most of the action happens on the SwitchBot mobile app, but there are still some things you have to do manually. The dustbin is automatically emptied, but you should clean it after a few months at least. You’ll have to also maintain the brushes, which is where the vacuum’s lightweight body comes in again. Most importantly, there’s a manual on/off switch under the top lid that you do have to flip to get the ball rolling. Fortunately, getting to all these parts is a walk in the park thanks to the K10+’s simple and smart design.

Performance

It’s easy to dismiss the SwitchBot K10+’s power after hearing that it’s the world’s smallest robot vacuum cleaner, but that would definitely be playing into the size trap. There is a saying that also goes “small is terrible,” but in this case small is a lot better in things that the big guys can’t even handle. This is especially true for the many areas you take for granted in your house, like between the legs of chairs, underneath low furniture, or that narrow space between the wall and the couch.

The SwitchBot K10+ possesses excellent LIDAR vision and silicon smarts to make short work of these cramped spaces. After the initial navigation of the floor’s layout, you are given a visual map where you can merge or separate areas, in the rare cases that the robot got it wrong. That same vision and intelligence is also what allows the K10+ to easily navigate the “in-betweens” with agility and precision, correcting itself if it does bump into a leg or corner wall. In other words, the small robot has plenty of brains to get around without a hitch and insert itself in places that regular vacuum cleaners wouldn’t even dream of fitting.

When it comes to the actual act of vacuuming, the SwitchBot K10+ is a bit of a mixed bag that’s leaning more toward the positive. Despite its size, its 2,500Pa suction power is plenty strong, able to handle most tasks on hardwood floors. Yes, it will fail on very thick and tall carpets, but short ones are no problem at all. It even has automatic carpet detection so that it knows to apply stronger suction when rolling over a mop. It’s not a complete clean on the first pass, but you can program it to do two passes every time. Interestingly, when it is programmed that way, it will alternate between horizontal and vertical routes to make sure that every inch of the floor is covered.

All of the robot’s functions can be reached from the SwitchBot smartphone app, which you need to set up before you can even use it. It has everything you need to control the K10+, from mapping to setting no-go zones to switching between four levels of suction strength. You can also schedule when and where the robot will do the cleaning as well as how many passes it makes in each area. The app, however, has also a few features you rarely find in other robot vacuums. For example, you can download a voice package to change how the robot sounds when it reports to you, personalizing the experience to some degree. There’s also an “accessory usage life” that uses a time-based counter to remind the owner to clean or change out certain parts to keep the robot performing at its best.

With a size this small, there are bound to be some limitations, and, objectively speaking, there are quite a few. As mentioned, 2,500Pa is not enough to handle tough dirt and thick carpets, but the SwitchBot K10+’s biggest weakness is its mopping function. There is no separate water tank or roller for mopping, and you have to use disposable wipes (included in the package) every time you want to wipe the floor. The upside is that you don’t have to deal with washing mop heads and the risk of gathering germs along the way. You simply remove the wet wipe and throw it away. The downside is that the cost of these wipes will accumulate over time, making it a rather expensive function.

The mopping function isn’t that great either, since there are no rollers or mop heads to really do a proper moping. It’s basically doing the equivalent of simply wiping off the floor with a damp cloth and nothing more, so tougher stains won’t go away using this method. Given the way it works, you can’t even vacuum and mop at the same time and have to switch between modes. It’s a very basic feature that you probably wouldn’t miss if it weren’t there in the first place, but SwitchBot seems to have decided to put it there just for the sake of having it on marketing material.

Sustainability

Although it’s quite unique in its size, the SwitchBot K10+ is very typical in its design, including its abundant use of plastic. That makes the product less eco-friendly, but there is another aspect that further pushes its sustainability grade down. The wet wipes for mopping, while convenient and hygienic, are pretty wasteful and environment-unfriendly. More advanced robot vacuum cleaners have automated washing and drying to solve the problem of cleaning mops, but there just isn’t enough room for the small K10+ for this feature. For some households, it’s not going to be a deal-breaker, just something they have to take into account when computing the total cost of ownership.

Value

The SwitchBot K10+ is a rather unique product that is full of surprises but also leaves potential buyers even more undecided about its value. With a standard $499.99 price tag, it’s not exactly the most affordable robot vacuum cleaner, despite its smaller size. It almost sounds like a niche product, but you might be surprised at how common that niche turns out to be.

The world’s smallest robot vacuum really shines in small places like apartments, one to two-bedroom suites, and similar residential spaces. Individuals and small families have long felt left out by the mainstream market because of large robot vacuums that couldn’t properly navigate their cramped floors. The K10+ surprisingly offers pretty much the standard set of features for robot vacuums, including decent suction power for most kinds of dirt and particles, so it gets the job done even when it involves squeezing into tight spaces. Yes, it might have been better off not offering any mopping functionality at all, but it’s at least there if and when you need it.

Verdict

Robot vacuum cleaners are becoming as common as smart home speakers and security cameras, providing the convenience of technology in a very palpable and almost mundane way. There’s a great deal of uniformity in the design of these smart machines, which means there’s very little variety in terms of style and form. The SwitchBot K10+ breaks free from those conventions by offering a smaller robot, but its small size isn’t just for show nor is it a disadvantage.

Thanks to its smaller radius, the K10+ can squeeze into tight spaces and reach floors that its larger rivals couldn’t. Despite its size, it has enough power to really suck the dirt off even from some short and light carpets. Sure, the mopping function is disappointing and wasteful, but you don’t always have to use it if all you need is a dirt-less floor. Even with just the basics, which it delivers with skill and proficiency, the SwitchBot K10+ can shave off hours from your busy day, freeing you to do the more important things in life like spending time with others or even with yourself.

The post SwitchBot K10+ Mini Robot Vacuum Review: Small Wonder, Big Benefits first appeared on Yanko Design.

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